How Young Is Too Young to Potty Train?


Baby Bjorn Potty ChairMy mother-in-law told me that her second child was potty trained by the time he was 18 months oldYeah, right! I thought. 

She said that her younger child wanted to do everything her older child did -- including using the potty. It makes sense, I suppose, but I never believed her.

Until the other night.

Last weekend, my just barely 2-year-old watched his 5-year-old brother use the big potty and then gestured to the little potty I keep in the bathroom for a stepping stool.

So I stripped off his diaper, sat him down, and what do you know? He did it! He knew it too! He was so proud! Me? I was shocked. The next day he asked to do it again. Okay, well, I figured that first time was probably a fluke but I let him sit on the potty again.

Did he use the potty a second time?

No, but he's still really interested. We've started putting him on the potty chair every night before bath time, just to get used to the idea. I didn't even try that with my older kid until after he was 3, so this seems crazy, but I guess it can't hurt, right?

I turned to Dr. Google to find out when it's appropriate to start potty training and surprise! There is no one answer. Most experts seem to think you can start potty training anywhere between 18 months and 3 years. Some signs that your child might be ready include: 

  • If your baby gleefully tries to undress.
  • Curiosity about the toilet and the genitals -- theirs and yours.
  • Talking about pee and poo.
  • Awareness of when pee and poo are happening -- especially just before the fact.

I guess you may see some of these signs happening independently in a 15-month-old or 18-month-old baby, but I think these concepts are just beyond the baby stage. (So no offense to my mother-in-law, but I still don't believe her.)   

Do you think parents are in too much of a hurry to potty train their kids?


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poop & diapers, potty training


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sstepph sstepph

I do think some parents want to get their child potty trained so they don't have to deal with diapers, but I feel as if they are making the child grow up too fast! My son was interested in the potty at 1 year and for almost a week he peed on the potty everday and kept a dry diaper during the day and some nights.. then all of a sudden he quit & we have tried but he has no interest. he turnes 2 in 10 days, and I think after our vaca I will try again.

nonmember avatar katie p

I trained mine at 17 months and it was very easy and I had a much easier time then my friends did with their older kids. Its like house training a puppy vs house training an older dog. At 2 he has much fewer accidents then a lot of 4 year olds I know. I think it was because he trained "early" and btw my mom trained 4/5 of us before we were 18 months (the 5th had downs and was quite a bit older). My sister and cousins had most of their kids trained before 18 months as well. Back before disposable diapers most kids were trained before 18 months and I think waiting till a kid "is ready" is simply a load of BS.

Lynette Lynette

my oldest potty trained at 3 1/2yrs, and then my 2nd son with the help of his big brother potty trained at 21mo!  My boys are 3 1/2 yrs apart.  My older one liked having a buddy in the bathrm to talk to so he would put his little brother on the potty.  My mom says I potty trained at 17mo.  I believe her because I have a sister who trained at 4yrs old.  She let us do our own thing and we lead the way.  Now my youngest(a girl) has been telling me poop before she actually goes and bringing me diapers when she wants a change.  I'm going to get the potty chair out of the garage this weekend to see if she wants to do it.  Not going to push it but if she wants too than she can.

Phils... PhilsBabyMama

Not at all.  I actually think parents wait too long and sabotage children's potty training efforts with things like pull ups.  In most countries children are potty trained MUCH earlier than in the U.S.  I'm not saying that parents should stress out or push children who really aren't ready, but many just assume their kids can't do it when they can.  Everyone kept telling me that I shouldn't even try to potty train Maddox (since he's a boy) until late in his 2nd year.  Well, we noticed when he was about 18 months that he would stand up in his kiddie pool, (he was in our backyard so he was naked) look down at his penis, then start tinkling.  Clearly he knew when he was going to pee and had some control.  We then started having him sit on a little potty when we would go to the bathroom.  Pretty soon he wasn't wetting his diapers anymore.  He received "big boy undies" for Christmas and decided he was done with diapers.  That was a week before his 2nd birthday.  I don't think every kid is ready that early, but parents shouldn't hold their kids back either because they want them to "stay babies longer."

nonmember avatar SKL

If you took your google search further, you would have found that up until about the 1950s, it was the norm for kids to be out of diapers by 18 months, and quite typical to start the process by 12 mos (often much sooner). And that this is still the norm in many cultures.

My kids were 100% out of diapers by age 1.5 and had very few accidents (day or night) after that.

Personally, waiting until a child is past 3 to even start the process sounds to me like educational neglect.

Funny how we are so adamant about getting kids off the bottle at 12 mos but nobody seems to think it's wrong for a 3-4 year old to be sitting in his own feces. Ick.

Please note that the diaper companies are the ones that promote today's "readiness" lists. They'd be happy if you waited until your kid could spell bowel movement.

How many of you can remember sitting in your own poo? Would you want to remember it? Do you want that to be one of your kids' lasting childhood memories? If not, you want to get them out of diapers by around 2.5.

AmyJo... AmyJoJones

I waited until my older son was older than 3 but he was totally ready and he rarely had any accidents at all. He was completely resistant to the idea before then and I did not want to push him. If my younger son was not showing signs of interest I would not be putting him on the potty now either.I'm all for trying to start the process early, but I think parents should be prepared to not have it take right away and not be discouraged by that.

knfisch knfisch

I don't think there's anytime thats too early.  I think more often then not parents wait too long to start potty training and miss the short opening when the toddler has enough understanding to learn to go on the potty before they get too comfortable wearing diapers and end up afraid of the potty change. I don't know why we are so pressured to wait to potty train.

kryst... krystel.justice

My Abuela (grandmother) says that she had me totally potty trained when I was one. However, I know I wet the bed until I was 11 so I don't know how trained I really was. My son is 26 months old right now, and we are potty training. He wears regular underwear at home and more often than not makes it to the potty. We use pull ups and cloth diapers when he is out and when he is napping. My friend has a son that is two weeks older than mine who wears regular underwear everywhere, even at night (NO ACCIDENTS) and out and about. He has a 6 year old brother, and I think that has something to do with it. 

ethan... ethans_momma06

My mom potty trained all 5 of us before age 2, most of us were starting at around 1.5 yrs. At around 18 months my Ds indicated that he did NOT want to be diapered and has only had ONE accident (and that was because he didn't want to stop playing) since turning 2. He is 3 + now and I can't imagine just starting the potty training process with him NOW. However each child (being an individual) is ready at there own pace and it's important that you pay attention to them vs. trying to conform them to a standard.

Selmada Selmada

I think the age each child is ready, is the right age. There is no fixed schedule.

I know too many adults with bathroom hangups because they were potty trained on their parents schedules, not the childs. I know one woman who wont leave the house in the morning unless she's had a bowel movement. She was "potty trained" at 12 months using the method of not being allowed to leave the potty until she did what was expected of her. She still goes to the bathroom on a schedule, even though she knows it's not necessary, she cant stop. She plans her life around having a bathroom near by at specfic intervals. Yes, she was potty trained at 12 months, but at what cost.

Yes, in the past parents potty trained early, but science has since shown that the bladder isnt always ready that soon. Dont forget, in these same 'good old days', pregnant mothers smoked the brand of cigarettes their doctors recommended. Just because it was done in the past, doesnt make it good or safe.

I would love my boys to potty train early, but I'll follow their lead on it and see how it goes.

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